Do Praying Mantises Eat Their Mates?

We know about the cannibalistic nature of praying mantises that can attack other insects and mammals to meet their body requirements of nutrition.

Do Praying Mantises Eat Their Mates? Praying mantises can eat their mates when females find their partners unfit for mating, or they are not identified correctly and obtain nutrition from their bodies. It also increases egg production when they eat partners. Males usually fight to overcome attacks from females and get a chance for the second mating.

There is a common misconception about the praying mantises that they eat their mating partners, but it is not a common practice followed by these insects.

There are almost 180 species of these insects, and only a few follow this behavior under particular situations, as this is not a natural behavior.

Does a female praying mantis eat its mate?

A female and male praying mantis fight during mating or even before mating for reasons, and their courtship sometimes becomes deadly for one of them.

It seems dangerous for both mating partners as there is an equal risk of death for both of them. Commonly, female partners are found to be more ferocious and try to kill their mates.

Sexual cannibalism is common in many organisms, including praying mantises, which can lead to the death of a male partner most of the time when it is not allowed to transfer sperm.

Almost 56% to 60% of the mating situations result in the male mate’s decapitation when they try to get closer for courtship.

Moreover, both try to pin down the other first, as they know that any delays can lead to their death. Females usually kill them to get nutrition from their bodies or avoid mating.

Males are almost 2.5 to 4 inches long, which means they are smaller in size than their mating partners having body lengths of almost 3 to 6 inches.

Big-size females help them fight and kill their partners by grabbing their bodies with the help of raptorial legs and getting control over them to restrict movement.

The female praying mantises are supposed to be naturally aggressive, win the battle most of the time, and kill their partner.

So, the situation depends on the fighting behavior and strength of the partners, whether the male wins the battle or not, as females eat them after losing the fight.

Why do praying mantises eat their mate?

Praying mantises are cannibalistic and do not leave their mate whenever they can use them for a meal and fulfill their nutritional needs.

It is found that females kill and eat their partners for around 60% to 64% of the time during or after mating, mainly when food is not available.

These males make up around 60% to 62% of their diet, while females do not find plenty of food due to increased demand for food in the mating season.

Moreover, these carnivorous insects can become a good source of amino acids and proteins for their partners and improve their diet, leading to the increased capability of egg fertilization.

The male body part remains attached to the female when mating, preventing other males from mating.

Accordingly, it allows her to fertilize all of her eggs, increases the reproduction process, and ensures that the only dead male has a paternity relation with the new generation.

The females usually attack their partners when they find them weak or unfit for copulation and try to keep them away. This is because they do not want weak males to be the father of their young ones.

Furthermore, the males do not fight to eat their partners, but they do so to get a second chance for mating by forcing the female partners.

It can be a defensive measure for males when they fight with females during mating, as these will eat male partners to extract nutrients from their bodies to feed the young.

How do praying mantises eat their mate?

Praying mantises have to capture their mates before eating as they can fly away. Accordingly, they use raptor forelegs to restrict their unnecessary movements and make swallowing easier.

Males and females have a distinct mechanism of cannibalizing mates when they come across each other during mating season. Mating occurs when males win a fight with their partners.

Most commonly, the females decapitate their partners after capturing them using spiny legs. After that, they slowly consume or devour their bodies as they usually die after removing their heads.

It is found that these female insects reject unfit mating partners and use them as a food source almost 15% to 30% of the time.

These avoid smaller males as they are not considered suitable for mating with them.

However, males can also injure their partners by using sharp claws on their legs when these do not allow them to mate. They can also fight off females to ensure their survival.

They prefer to remain alone as they do not tolerate other insects of the same species sharing their space and resources, and they even kill each other for food.

Accordingly, they begin tearing the bodies apart using sharp mandibles, devouring them from the head region, and eating them in smaller chunks.

Furthermore, it takes almost 30 to 40 minutes for a praying mantis to devour its partner and extract essential nutrients from its body.

How do male praying mantises avoid attacks from their mates?

Males have to develop strategies to avoid attacks from their partners as they have more risk of being eaten or swallowed by them due to their smaller size.

Some species approach partners in an undetected manner and attack suddenly, providing no chance for an escape and attacks in response.

Accordingly, Pseudomantis albofimbriata chooses this approach to access their partner and get closer to them slowly or mount them from an opposite side.

In addition, some become opportunistic mating partners when they find females busy eating food or other tasks and approach them quickly.

These species distract females from getting another chance to copulate. However, they have to make violent struggles most of the time and can engage in mating after winning the battle.

There are a lot of risks when the males move ahead to reach the females as there are a lot of chances to be eaten by their partners when they are feeling hungry due to food shortage.

Furthermore, it is pretty difficult for the male praying mantis to survive an attack from a bigger female partner, so it has to develop potential strategies to increase its chances of success.

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